Gisha in urgent letter to Prime Minister and Minister of Defense: Lift the sanctions on Kerem Shalom Crossing immediately

July 16, 2018. Yesterday evening, Gisha sent an urgent letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, demanding that they rescind the severe restrictions on the entrance of goods and the sweeping prohibition on exit of goods via the Kerem Shalom Crossing to the Gaza Strip. The letter also calls for all sanctions imposed on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip to be formally published in order to allow public debate on the matter.

The letter, signed by Gisha Executive Director Tania Hary, states: “The deliberate and indiscriminate damage caused to farmland in Israel is egregious and lamentable, and there is no dispute that action must be taken to stop it. However, it cannot justify the closure of the main commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip. Kerem Shalom serves the entire population of Gaza, including children, the elderly and the sick, a total of some two million people, and has no substitute.

“Merchants and farmers who received unexpected notice about the immediate closure of the crossing have suffered tremendously, in ways that may be irreversible. In addition to the immediate financial losses caused as a result of agricultural produce decaying and business deals being cancelled due to failure to supply goods in the agreed timeframes, the restrictions on shipping goods outside the Gaza Strip will cause severe damage to factories and businesses, and lead to loss of livelihoods.”

In the letter, Gisha emphasizes that the decision made by the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense constitutes collective punishment against a civilian population already suffering from extremely difficult living conditions. The letter concludes: “both Israeli and international law categorically and unequivocally prohibit the use of collective punishment. We urge you to lift the restrictions imposed on the movement of goods immediately and to avoid further measures.”

To read the letter, translated to English by Gisha, see here.

To read the letter (Hebrew), see here.